The young woman who related today’s chilling tale refers to herself only as “May,” and her actual identity has never been disclosed. Her story, however, seems vaguely familiar, like a long-forgotten nightmare… and ends with a shocking revelation.
While working on her doctorate thesis, May moved to a new home following an unpleasant breakup with her boyfriend. She had been searching for an affordable house near her best friend Haley, since she had no other friends and family off-campus. She eventually found a small but sturdy two-bedroom house with a small attic, located in an older residential neighborhood.
May knew nothing about the house before moving in, and didn’t question the realtor about the amazingly affordable asking price — less than half that of other homes in the same area. She found no structural damage; the wiring and plumbing were almost new; energy-efficient insulation had been recently installed.
When asked about the previous occupants, the realtor stated only that a thirty-something couple with a teenage son had lived there until around half a year ago, when they relocated to be closer to family. That seemed enough to ease May’s reservations about the ridiculously low price-tag. It was only later that she deeply regretted her failure to investigate the house’s history further.
After deciding to convert the second bedroom to a small study, May quickly began the process of moving in her furniture and belongings… and in a little more than a week she was already settled in and back to work on her thesis.
Just nine days after she’d moved in, the first of many unexplained phenomena began to occur.
The first sounds came late at night: it reminded May of the whimpering of a small animal, which she assumed was coming from outside the house. Though she tried to ignore it, the sound persisted for two more nights… but a quick search outside revealed no stray animals or wandering pets.
Then, one morning, she awakened to the faint but distinct smell of baby powder. She didn’t own any products which might smell like that, so she got up to investigate the source. She never found it, but did notice the smell was stronger in the hallway between the two rooms. Eventually the smell faded away, and she returned to her studies.
That night, while she was deep in concentration over her thesis, she was disturbed by a tiny, musical plinking. It was the kind of sound you might hear from a small wind-up music box… or a musical mobile attached to a baby’s crib.
She tried to locate the origin of the music… and realized it was coming through the wall of her study. But there was nothing on the other side of that particular wall; the bathroom was attached to the larger bedroom, and there were no other rooms on the floor plan.
As quickly as it had begun, the music stopped.
A week passed without further incident, and the strange sounds and smells were eventually forgotten. May’s friend Haley came over several times to visit during that week, and one of those nights, during dinner, she asked May a curious question: “What kind of music box did you buy?”
“I don’t own a music box,” May replied… and all at once, the memory of that tiny, eerie nocturnal tune returned.
“But I heard this cute little melody,” her friend said. “How did it go…?” She pondered for a moment, then hummed the haunting notes. May suddenly felt faint as she instantly recognized the melody from behind the wall.
After taking a moment to recover, she described the strange incidents she’d experienced since moving into the house.
“It sounds like a mobile,” she told Haley, her voice shaking. “You know, the musical kind they put over a baby’s crib? But the last family who lived here didn’t have a baby. Their son was a teenager when they moved in.”
Sensing her friend’s growing unease, Haley offered to stay overnight on the couch, and May gladly accepted.
At around 3am, May was surprised to feel Haley shaking her awake… then sat bolt upright when she heard the sound that had awakened her friend: the sound of a baby crying in obvious distress.
May knew now she hadn’t been losing her mind; her friend had heard the crying too… but that meant a baby was trapped somewhere in her house, and it was in desperate need.
They managed to trace the sound to a specific section of the study wall before it suddenly stopped altogether. Then May realized what she needed to do next: measure the distance from that wall to the outer wall of the house. Haley helped her pace out the distance, and they were stunned to realize there was roughly a ten-foot difference between the inner and outer walls. That space clearly corresponded to another room — a room completely sealed from the rest of the house.
Without hesitation, May dug into her toolbox, found a large hammer, and began smashing her way through the wall.
The wall collapsed with very little resistance; the space behind it had been covered over with nothing more than thick plywood, then painted over to match the other walls.
Inside was a tiny, windowless bedroom… a baby’s nursery.
The room was still furnished and decorated, but dust, mold and decay had reduced it to a hideous mockery of its former self. A wooden rocking chair sat in one corner, facing a small, narrow crib, and toys were arranged neatly on a small set of shelves, along with a single large book.
May wiped the thick layer of dust from the book, revealing three words in gold embossed lettering: Baby’s First Year.
The spine of the book cracked and shed more dust as she pulled it open, revealing a crumbling photo taped to the first page. The yellowed tape had long since lost its adhesive, and the photo began to slide out. May caught it and held it up for a closer look.
The baby in the photograph seemed normal at first, but on closer examination, there was something odd about her appearance — something May couldn’t quite place. Perhaps it was the decaying emulsion of the photo, but it seemed as if the child was deformed in some way.
She turned over the picture, and found a name written on the back in a delicate longhand: “Olivia Bathany Cordell, October 23rd, 1972.”
She turned more pages, on which were loosely attached various documents and news clippings, including a birth certificate, family announcements and other related events. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary… except for that strange photo.
After the first few pages, she found no further entries… but stopped when she heard Haley scream.
She had been looking in the crib… and when May came to stand next to her, she dropped the book in shock.
In the crib, laying among the decaying toys, was a tiny skeleton.
They didn’t stay long enough to examine it any further, and nearly tripped over each other crawling out of the secret nursery and back into the study. Less than five minutes later, they were out the door and in Haley’s car, speeding to her apartment a few blocks away. May spent the night there, though she was unable to sleep, her thoughts obscured by the image of what she’d seen in that room.
Finally, she managed to work up the nerve to borrow Haley’s computer and do some research. She had to know more about the history of that house. After some digging, she came across a news item which referenced the same address:
May 17, 1972
Man, 33, Found After Wife and Son’s Disappearance; Claims to Have Abandoned a Second Child
The Cordell family of 1247 South Broadway street went missing last Wednesday after the neighbors reported the sound of screaming. When authorities arrived, the house was found empty. Missing from the residence are David Cordell, 33, Patricia Cordell, 30, and Tate Cordell, 7.
David was found and brought in for questioning three days ago, but other family members remain missing. Cordell admitted to leaving his 7-month-old daughter Olivia in the house; he also described the child as mentally disabled. Police thoroughly searched the premises following his confession, but could not find any infant. The investigation is ongoing, with criminal charges pending examination of evidence.
May reported what she found to the police, who took the remains away for examination and burial. She never followed up on the case — which had previously been closed for decades — and after returning home, hired a contractor to repair the damages and clean out the hidden room.
Strangely, she didn’t have the little room resealed; instead, she asked the builders to construct a door connecting it with the study.
“Who knows,” May writes in her final entry. “The nursery might make a great room for my baby in seven months.”